One by-election on Tuesday 21st February 2017:
Basingstoke and Deane council, Hampshire; caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor Joseph Smith. He had served since 2015.
The history of Winklebury goes back a very long way – during the Iron Age there was a hill fort here, while later on the Romans built a road from Winchester to Silchester which runs just to the west of the old hill fort. However, the whole area changed in the 1960s when the suburb of Winklebury was built on the western boundary of Basingstoke to accommodate London overspill; the fort site is now the grounds of an under-threat secondary school (Fort Hill) and the suburb surrounding it might be described as affluent working-class, with high levels of employment (particularly at what the census calls “intermediate” level) and social housing. Winklebury’s Roman Road is presently the western boundary of Basingstoke, but possibly not for much longer, with a development of thousands of new homes proposed for the Manydown area just outside the ward to the west.
Winklebury ward has voted Conservative at every election since 2002 when it was narrowly Labour. It took on its current boundaries in 2008 and in the Coalition years was a key marginal: the Tory majority was 101 votes in 2011 and 42 votes in 2014. The most recent poll here was on general election day in 2015 and had a more comfortable Tory lead – 46% to 30% for Labour and 18% for UKIP. However, Labour will be looking for a strong performance here to demonstrate that they can gain the marginal seat of Basingstoke North West at the Hampshire county council elections in 2017 – the Tories are defending a majority of less than five points from 2013 in that county division.
With Hampshire county council presently consulting on whether to close Fort Hill secondary school the major issue of the campaign is an obvious one, to the extent that the defending Tory candidate has signed a petition against the school closure which was started by the Labour candidate. That Tory candidate is Chris Hendon, a housing professional. Labour’s Angie Freeman will hope to improve on her runners-up place in this ward in 2008; according to her Twitter she is Winklebury born and bred. UKIP are sitting this by-election out, so the Lib Dems’ Zoe-Marie Roberts completes the ballot paper.
Parliamentary constituency: Basingstoke
Hampshire county council division: Basingstoke North West
May 2015 result C 1404 Lab 933 UKIP 549 LD 179
May 2014 result C 728 Lab 686 UKIP 391 LD 46
May 2011 result C 1002 Lab 901 LD 107
May 2010 result C 1560 Lab 950 LD 479 Basingstoke First Community Party 95
May 2008 result C 1097/1070 Lab 580/582 LD 97/87